This Christmas, we’ll sip on this rich, easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate and revel in the spirit of the holidays while gathering with family.

Hot cocoa is perfect for winter family gatherings. It’s a fabulous way to warm up after an afternoon of sledding, skiing, caroling, or while sitting around a roaring fire on a cold evening. If you’re addicted to Starbucks’ Peppermint Hot Chocolate, save some money and make it at home!

Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate in a white mug.

Why You Must Make

My childhood memories of the holidays include hours on the nearby Arboretum’s sledding hill with my dad and three sisters. His job was to keep our excited, wound-up little souls out of my mom’s hair as she prepared our Christmas feast. We loved returning home, rosy-cheeked, and having a mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows to help warm us up. Granted, it was milk heated on the stovetop, then doctored up with Hershey’s syrup.

  • This homemade recipe is much richer and more indulgent than any powdered version.
  • It’s a wonderful indulgence for the holidays or when you have company on a chilly day.
  • The addition of peppermint and festive toppings make it worthy for Christmas or New Year’s!
Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate pans and garnishes.

When to Serve

  • It’s a wonderful way to warm up after an afternoon of sledding, ice skating or skiing.
  • Or invite your friends over for a cup after caroling in your neighborhood.
  • Hot chocolate is featured in numerous holiday movies from (affiliate links) The Polar Express to The Santa Clause to The Holiday (a rom-com that my daughter and I love!).
  • So grab your favorite family holiday flick, cook up some of this ultra-creamy peppermint hot cocoa, and reminisce about the joys of seasons past. The true spirit of the holidays is to focus on those near and dear to you and this time spent together is priceless.
Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate in a mug topped with whipped cream and candy cane shards.

How to Make

  1. Start by simmering whole milk and cream with rich Dutch cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate.
  2. Add vanilla, sugar, and peppermint extract to round out the flavors perfectly.
  3. Serve with your favorite hot chocolate toppings like marshmallows, whipped cream, etc.

Recipe Tips

  • Using whole milk with a higher percentage of butterfat and heavy cream ensures a luscious texture.
  • Stir your milk while heating to prevent scorching the bottom and while it’s cooling to prevent a skin from forming across the surface.
  • This is super rich. Serve in small cups, but have seconds available!
  • Remember that peppermint extract is potent. Don’t be tempted to add more as it will overwhelm the other flavors.
  • A touch of peppermint schnapps instead of the extract is a fun option for adults.
  • Offer a wide variety of your favorite toppings to make an interactive hot chocolate bar. Marshmallows of all sizes, crushed candy canes, chocolate curls, and sweetened whipped cream are all delicious options! Even my peppermint-snubbing hubby drank a mug!
Two mugs of Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate topped with whipped cream.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa?

The major difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa is that hot chocolate gets its chocolate flavor from melted chocolate and hot cocoa uses cocoa powder. The former is richer, but both versions are delicious!

Should You Make Hot Chocolate with Milk or Water?

Use whole milk, cream, or half and half for the best texture and mouth feel. The fat in dairy products will make a richer, smoother hot chocolate.

What’s the Best Way to Warm Milk for Hot Chocolate?

Use your cooktop so you can monitor the process closely to avoid scorching or having it boil over. Heat to a simmer which is when tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface (185° F). Stir frequently to prevent the bottom from burning.

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Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate | Rich, silky cocoa with a peppermint twist!

Easy Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 6

Rich, silky cocoa with a peppermint twist!


  • 3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder (regular cocoa powder can be used, too)
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼-1 teaspoon peppermint extract (to taste)
  • Sweetened whipped cream, to serve
  • Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies, to serve
  • Shaved chocolate, to serve
  • Marshmallows, to serve


  1. Simmer ¾ cup water in a medium saucepan. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth.
  2. Add milk and cream and return to a simmer.
  3. Continue cooking and whisk in chocolate and sugar until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves.
  4. Mix in vanilla and peppermint extract. Start with ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract, taste, and add more to get the intensity you desire.
  5. Use a ladle to pour hot chocolate into mugs or cups. 
  6. Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with crushed candy canes, marshmallows, and/or chocolate shavings if desired.


Make a hot chocolate bar by putting the hot chocolate in a carafe along with bowls of optional toppings!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 mug

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 376Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 57mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 3gSugar: 36gProtein: 6g


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